Published on: Monday, June 28, 2021
Article by Richard Walsh
Header photo credit: Harry Trump
King’s College was very much at the fore when Somerset beat Hampshire Hawks at the end of a thrilling T20 Blast match at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Friday evening.
Walking into the ground, the scoreboard announced the match was sponsored by King’s, but that was just the start of the involvement.
After being asked to bat first, former King’s pupil Tom Banton walked out to open with James Hildreth, and stood watching as two wickets fell at the other end, bringing another former pupil, Will Smeed,to the wicket at the end of the third over with just 17 runs on the board.
What happened next was pure magic as the King’s duo transformed the Somerset innings.
Tom, who is now 22, was at his audacious best as he blasted his way to a 22-ball half-century. At the opposite end, 19-year-old Will, who only left King’s last summer, was more cautious, and initially played the supportive role before opening up to play his full range of attacking shots.
The senior partner, who has not enjoyed the most successful of starts to the season, was back to his best and brought up the Somerset 100 with a switch hit six off Mason Crane.
After an innings of sheer genius, during which he had helped take the total onto 121, Tom was out for 77 which came off 37 deliveries and included eight fours and five sixes.
Will then stepped up to take on the senior role and seemed to blossom with the additional responsibility, bringing up his own half-century off 39 balls with four fours and two sixes with a boundary to long on. He remained unbeaten on 63 as Somerset finished their innings on 172 for nine, which in the end just about proved to be a winning total as Hampshire ended on 165 for seven.
Afterwards Tom said: “I couldn’t be more happy and just pleased for everyone. We didn’t get off to the best of starts, but when young Smeedy came in I said 'give yourself a chance and we can catch up' – and it paid off.
“I have known Smeedy for a long time and went to school with him, and was in the same boarding house. I used to bat with him so I know him pretty well – it was nice to be able to bring back some memories.
“When Smeedy came out I said to him that it didn’t matter that there might be dot balls because we all know he can clear the ropes, so just give himself a chance and then we can be smart and target that short boundary.
“When we were at King’s together we shared a big partnership, so it was good to be out there with him again tonight. He is so young – although it looks like he has played fifty odd games or so. It's nice to bat with him and help him along the way. I think he is trying to be a top order slogger like me!”
The partnership Tom was referring to was back in 2017, when along with Will, he shared an opening partnership of 208!